Much as he did with his first volume of the piano music of Frédéric Chopin, Louis Lortie has arranged the second volume by alternating pieces in specific forms and linking them by tonal relationships, thus creating a unifying effect. The pairs of pieces in G minor, F major, and F minor, with a triptych of pieces in the related keys of E flat major, C minor and A flat major, followed by another group in D flat major and F sharp major, are logical and more pleasing to the ear than a random arrangement. Furthermore, by pairing the Nocturnes with the Ballades, Lortie follows the same procedure he used with the Nocturnes and Scherzos in the previous volume; this method of organization will likely hold true for future installments, wherever practical. By treating the Nocturnes somewhat like preludes, and giving the Ballades strongly contrasting characters, Lortie maintains a high degree of interest throughout the album and avoids aural fatigue, a risk of planning a program in the abstract. In the end, what counts more than his tonal framework are the varieties of moods, which Lortie offers in a wide range. In his hands, Chopin's music is by turns calm and flashy, brooding and brilliant, somber and sentimental, though never too much of a feeling at any given time. This remarkable expressive range is essential to the success of this package and the series. Recorded in 2011, Chandos' sound is clear and crisply defined, and the digital recording gives the piano credible presence.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson